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NY gay magazine
November 21, 2003
Clock of the Heart
Tori Amos offers advice and a 'reconditioned' best-of CD -- as only she can.
Text by Gregory T. Angelo
Fifteen minutes. Not a helluva lot of time to talk with a figurehead of intellectual musicianship as established as Tori Amos, but Amos' manager insists upon adhering to his client's schedule. 15 minutes will have to do.
It's late afternoon in Cornwall, England, Amos' place of residence for the past five years, and the singer has just finished putting her house in order after hosting a Halloween party for her daughter the previous night. "It was my three-year-old's first Halloween party," Amos relates, admitting to hosting the festivities in a slinky cat costume. "We had a candy scavenger hunt."
By the time she's done recapping her costume exploits, a mere 13 minutes remain on the clock. In light of the maternal discussion, I ask if becoming a mother has mellowed her at all. "That's interesting," she says. "When I get behind a piano, I don't feel the need to to sing nursery rhymes. There are certain songs [my daughter] loves, and we sing them together. She loves 'Cornflake Girl,' but I'm not going to play 'Starfucker' for her." She continues: "There's nothing sexy about an angry forty-year-old! To take this one step further: Years ago, when I had to go talk to 'the suits,' I would walk in with guns loaded. Now I say to them, 'Gentlemen, feel free to wear white -- these days I don't leave bloodstains.'"
That matter nicely squared -- and with 10 minutes remaining on the clock -- discussion turns to 'Tales of a Librarian' (Atlantic), Amos' upcoming best-of collection. "I love a good concept, as you must know," she relays. "I wanted [to tell] a story [akin to that] of a Roman woman 2000 years ago when Rome was at its apex, or just beginning to break down; when people saw they were at a crossroads. I saw this as a chance to put together a compilation of songs about a woman's life that may seem unrelated, but they are related because they tell her story, covering all aspects of being a woman in the late 20th century." In addition to 'Librarian''s clever sequencing, listeners wil find two previously unreleased Amos epics -- "Angels" and "Snow Cherries from France" -- as well as "reconditioned" versions of familiar fare; Amos has personally revisited several of the tracks on the CD and endowed them with new arrangements and orchestrations. Amos begins to elaborate on her choice to revisit her older works: "Some songs couldn't live next to each other musically. Others were never written to be [presented] next to each other--" Suddenly her studio phone begins to ring, her manager on the other end. "Oops! That's our five minute warning," she says.
With time ticking down, I conjure one final question. Amos has always been a vocal advocate of equal rights, so I inquire for her perspective on the ongoing gay rights struggle in light of the sweeping metrosexual trend, Supreme Court ruling and the battle over gay marriage and adoption. "Right now, it's about organizing," she answers. "Every vote and every voice counts. It's about gays choosig to not be vicitmized in their psyche. People that supposedly dislike gay people don't even know they're being influenced by gay people!"
It's obvious Amos could have spoken on the subject for our entire 15 minutes. But the still-ringing phone indicates the end of our interview and gives me just enough time to relay a grateful goodbye, which Amos meets with equal aplomb. "Oh and Gregory--?" she qickly adds before we're disconnected. "Yes?" "Good luck with the cause."
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